Shikoku 88 Temples Foot Pilgrimage – And so it begins…….Nan Jin Desu Ka? (Japanese for, “How many are in your party?”)
There are AT LEAST five of us going on this pilgrimage.
In truth, there are many, many more…
It is quite an ensemble, a diverse cast of characters.
There is my lower self, the one who is weak and needy.
The one who seeks for comforts, moans a lot and does not rise up to the occasion.
She is spoiled and self-indulgent, full of self pity, anger, ignorance and has a restless mind.
She is short tempered, and envious of people whom she perceives to do better than her… To be honest, I hope to lose her on the way….
She is heavy and she is making me old….
Perhaps I will take a right turn while she still lingers somewhere buying ice cream, moaning about the difficulties of the journey….
I TRULY hope that I can ditch her somewhere along the path.
Then there is my Higher Self, who is so excited and inspired to go on this pilgrimage.
She is a luminous Goddess who is alway cheerful, very powerful, smart, full of humor, fun to be with, insightful and very light on her feet.
So there are two of me, both of whom are coming on this pilgrimage.
Jules has exactly the same two selves.
He brings his lower self, who loves structure and order.
He gets nervous when there are no obvious plans and when there are uncertainties, like where are we going to sleep tonight, where shall we eat and how do we get there.
His lower self is nervous, and easily gets angry when we make mistakes.
And then there is his double, the Luminous Glorious God within him.
That makes four of us.
Then there is our main guide.
He is, of course, Kobo Daishi, whose given name was Kukai, the Buddhist monk who established this pilgrimage towards Nirvana, around the year 710BC.
Kobo Daishi brought an esoteric form of Shingon Buddhism to Shikoku, and established many of the ancient temples along this pilgrimage route.
Every pilgrim walks with Kukai.
Some pilgrims start the walk with a wooden walking stick engraved with this slogan: “Dogyo Ninin” which means “There are two of us walking!”
This refers to the fact that each pilgrim walks with Kobo Daishi.
The wooden stick represents Kukai.
That makes five of us.
In my consciousness, I bring with me all our family, neighbors and friends, clients, acquaintances and of course people who read my blog.
I have invited other masters as guides.
I invited Paramahansha Yogananda to walk with us, Alan Watts, who trained as a Zen monk, Sri Yuktashwar, Babaji, Lahiri Mahashai, Padmasambava, the Tibetan God Gesar along with Milarepa and Marpa, Carlos Castaneda along with Don Juan, Don Genaro, Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy with her multiple arms, my beloved teacher Yehoshua (Jesus) and Rama, the Majestic enlightened Buddha, Lao Tse and a collection of humble and wise Taoist Chinese Hermits among many others who I’ve asked to come, since….
We need all the help we can get…..
So it is quite an ensemble of characters, although in the photos, you will probably see only Jules and I….
Our location on the earth: Deep in the mountains of Koyasan, Japan
Koyasan is a highland valley surrounded by eight mountain peaks, reminiscent of the center of a lotus flower surrounded by eight petals.
Koyasan is the center for Shingon (Esoteric) Buddhism in Japan, and most pilgrims begin their stay here by visiting “Okunoin” – the Kobo Daishi’s mausoleum and shrine.
The shrine is located in a thick forest of cedar trees that are hundreds of years old, towering up into the sky.
The Koyasan area is very scenic, tucked in a remote highland valley that is filled with magnificent old temples, each surrounded by its own manicured garden.
We are staying in a small temple called “Yochi-In,” one of the temples that offer “Shukubo” (temple lodging.)
We have a traditional tatami mat room with sliding shoji doors lined with rice paper.
The bathrooms, sinks and the bathhouse are shared.
The temple offers pure vegetarian Buddhist food for dinner and breakfast.
At 6:20 in the morning we join the monks for morning prayers.
At 7:20 AM breakfast is served.
Tomorrow we will go to ask Kobo Daishi to join us on our pilgrimage.
I am sure he already knows we are coming…..